Avocado toast is out.
Food industry experts from Whole Foods to the National Restaurant Association are saying the next year in food is going to be a big step beyond what we saw in 2017.
Plant-Based Protein Alternatives
As more of us move from meat as a source of our protein, plant-based substitutes will become more available and tastier. From high-tech protein replacers like the Impossible Burger to vegetable versions of sushi fish, the food industry will be creating crave-worthy vegan-friendly choices in 2018. Look out for algae-based foods and lots of pea protein as an ingredient.
To lure eco-conscious patrons, companies will continue to recycle food waste into new products. You will see more menus touting root-to-stem recipes like pickled watermelon rinds and beet green pesto and products promoting their use of leftover grain from beverage-making.
In 2018, off-the-shelf nutrition bars, soups and cookies will be spiked with superfoods like matcha, maca, spirulina and turmeric. Functional mushrooms like reishi, chaga and cordyceps that are traditionally used in diet supplements, are cropping up in bottled drinks, coffees, smoothies and teas. You will also see more superfood powders that you can add in your own kitchen.
As gluten-free has peaked and research is questioning the benefits of simply removing the wheat protein from our diets, consumption of artisanal breads has started to rise. You’ll see better grains, fresher millings, longer proofing times and less yeast, as well as fewer sketchy claims of “gluten-free” on foods that never had gluten to begin with.
Exploring the Middle East
Now that hummus, pita and falafel have been adopted as American, we are venturing into other regions of the Middle East. Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbooks have been some of the best sellers for the last few years, bringing Middle Eastern flavors to the United States. His flavors are via Israel, while flavors of Morocco, Syria, Lebanon as well as traditional Persian cuisine will start to spice up more menus in 2018. You’ll see more pomegranate, harissa, za’atar and grilled halloumi cheese. Keep an eye out for Peruvian and Filipino cuisine as well.
Savory flavors will continue to infuse everything from yogurt to cocktail mixers. Expect Earl Grey filling in your donuts, olives in your ice cream and flowers everywhere. Floral flavors, like elderflower, hibiscus and rose will be in drinks and frozen confections. Move over pumpkin spice, lavender lattes are on their way.
Rainbow and unicorn foods are out. In 2018, you’ll be seeing more black. Activated charcoal (created by carbonizing coconut shells at high temperatures) is touted as a superfood for its detoxifying effects, but clearly the color is the turn-on. It’s being added to lemonade, pizza crust and ice cream. Other black ingredients like licorice, black rice and squid ink will be darkening plates as well.
As more states legalize recreational marijuana, you’ll see more THC-infused drinks, candies and snacks in dispensaries, vape shops and online recipes. In states weed is still illegal, hemp CBD-infused products will be gateway foods as buyers and sellers navigate state borders and legal barriers.
In 2018, producers and purveyors will be responding to consumers demand for detailed labels. Responsible foodies are looking for information about GMO content, ingredient sourcing, production and supply chain. More information gives control to consumers, allowing them to choose foods that are tailored to their beliefs, desires, health and conscience.